Core Training Exercise – Pallof Press Variations

Stephen Holt, Timonium personal trainer

Millions of readers of national fitness magazines including Shape, Women's Health, Fitness. Woman's Day, Family Circle, Runner's World, (and many others) have made their exercise programs both more effective AND more efficient with fitness and nutrition advice from "America's Baby Boomer Expert," Stephen Holt.

The Pallof Press (named for physical therapist, John Pallof) is a classic anti-rotation exercise. Remember, using your core muscles to resist rotation is probably even more important than using them to actively rotate. It’s easy to do. You can even do it at home using tubing.

Stand at a 90 degree angle to the cable. Get in an athletic stance and hold the handle at your navel. Slowly and smoothly straighten your arms straight ahead then right back to where you started.
The key here is to keep your hips and shoulders facing straight ahead even though the resistance is trying to make you rotate.

Here’s where my fancy pants Duke engineering degree is handy …

As you straighten your arms, you’re increasing the moment arm which increases the torque on your core (and, technically, all the way down to your feet). In other words, as you straighten your arms, it gets harder to keep your torso from rotating.


Pallof Circles

In this variation, you get a little fancy by moving your hands in a circle and adding a frontal plane (side-to-side) challenge to the transverse (rotational) challenge. Again, keep your hips level and facing straight ahead. (Our model’s arms should be just a little straighter here.)


Pallof Chop

Same principle – keep your hips still. This one adds even more of a frontal plane challenge than Pallof Circles because of the increase in the lever arm as you bring your arms as high as you can in good form. The addition of shoulder flexion (that’s lifting your arms up) challenges what I like to call your lat length/ab strength relationship. If your lats are too tight and/or your abs aren’t strong enough to control your pelvis, you’ll tilt your pelvis anteriorly (“Donald Duck,” as we say in the biz). DO NOT let this happen.

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